Friday, January 15, 2010

SC asks why Guj isn’t giving lions to MP

SC asks why Guj isn't giving lions to MP
Times of India

If there are any hints to be taken by Gujarati pride, the question put forth by the Supreme Court on translocation of lions from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh, should appear ominous to those opposed to the idea of shifting of the king of the jungle to the neighbouring state.

During the hearing of the petition seeking transfer of lions to MP, the SC sought to know what was holding Gujarat from giving five to six lions to MP - a move said to be critical to saving the species concentrated in only one habitat.

This was for the first time that MP roped in the services of the redoubtable senior counsel Soli Sorabjee. Gujarat, the only home to the Asiatic Lion in the wild, is resisting the shifting of the species over which it would like to have exclusive rights.

A Delhi-based NGO, Bio-diversity Conservation Trust, filed a litigation in the SC urging it to direct Gujarat to co-operate with MP in transferring lions to Kuno-Palpur, which resembles the habitat of the wild cat's only home in Gujarat.

As Gujarat government sought time from the bench of Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan, Justice Deepak Verma and Justice BS Chauhan, sought to know how many lions did Gujarat have.

To this, the Gujarat counsel said that according to a rough estimate Gujarat had around 400 lions. The last census in 2005 had 359 lions.

The bench again sought to know what was holding back Gujarat from giving about six lions to MP. The Gujarat counsel informed that there was no prey base in MP at the proposed shifting site. But Sorabjee told the bench that MP already has a project in place, in collaboration with the Centre, and around Rs 24 crore has already being spent on habitat development which includes rehabilitating human residents of Kuno-Palpur. The next hearing will be on February 11.

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